COLUMBUS, Ohio — Don’t forget the helmet. A recent nationwide study finds that 25 children are rushed to emergency rooms every hour due to injuries occurring while riding a bicycle.
Using data from an injury database maintained by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital looked at statistics recorded between January 2006 and December 2015. They found more than 2.2 million children aged five to 17 were treated at an American hospital for injuries related to riding a bicycle.
To break it down even further, that’s 608 cases per day and 25 per hour.
According to the data, the majority (46%) of injuries were to children between the ages of 10 and 14. Boys were also far more likely to require emergency medical attention, accounting for 72% of bicycle-related incidents.
The authors say that upper extremities were the most commonly-injured region of the body (36% of injuries), while 25% occurred to the lower extremities, 15% to the face, and 15% to the head and neck. The most common types of injury were bruises and scrapes (29%) and cuts (23%). One in 10 children (11%) treated by emergency care during this period sustained traumatic brain injuries, which were most common in patients between 10 and 14 years old. Overall, 4% of all patients were hospitalized for their injuries.
While wearing a helmet decreased the likelihood of head and neck injuries and hospitalizations, there was no significant difference in the rate at which helmet wearers were injured overall.
“Wearing a helmet while riding a bike is the best way to decrease the risk of serious injuries,” says senior author Dr. Lara McKenzie, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy, in a release. “We want parents and kids to keep riding their bikes, but it’s important for all riders to wear a helmet. Take your children shopping for bike helmets so you can find ones that fit them and they can choose a style they like. They will be more likely to want to wear it.”
McKenzie adds that while bicycle helmet laws have led to more children routinely wearing them, fewer than half of the states in the U.S. have laws and they are not always enforced.
The study was published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.